Old dressContrasting fabricBias binding folderShank buttonsCoordinating sewing thread
Rework a dress
1 Unpick and remove any sleeves and put them to one side. Cut the armholes slightly lower to make them larger and create more room across the bust. Fold the dress in half through the centre back to find the exact centre if there is no seam. Cut along this fold to open up the garment.
2 From a contrasting fabric, make a 4cm wide strip of bias binding by cutting at a 45° angle from the selvedge. Make the strip as long as the armholes of the garment. Use a bias binding folder to fold in and press the edges twice. Encase the raw edge of the armhole inside the binding, and edge stitch all the way around. Repeat on the other side.
3 Cut a 3cm wide strip from fabric the length of the bottom of the garment. Neaten one long raw edge. Matching raw edges, stitch this along the base of the dress, right sides together, using a 1cm seam allowance, to create a new hem. You can alter the length of the garment by varying the width of the strip.
4 Cut two 8cm wide strips to the length of the centre back, plus 3cm. Neaten one long raw edge. Lay one on top of the centre back edge, right sides facing, matching the raw edges. Ensure 1.5cm of the strip extends over each end of the dress fabric. Pin and stitch the two together with a 1cm seam allowance. Press the trim back, away from the dress, then fold it in half right sides facing and stitch down the excess fabric at each short end.
5 Trim the corners to reduce bulk, then turn the border out to the right side, pushing the corners into shape. The raw edge of the garment should lay inside the trim. Pin along the strip on the right side of the dress then secure by stitching the seam between the dress and the extra fabric on the right side of the garment. Repeat on the other centre back edge.
6 Use the sleeve fabric set aside to cover three shank buttons, and stitch them on the right-hand side of the new back centre edge. Create corresponding buttonholes on the left. The remainder of the centre back can be left open for a looser fit, or more buttons can be added to close the entire back of the top.